ARUN SHOURIE SPELLS OUT INDIA’S PRIORITIES ON MARKET ACCESS IN WTO
Date : 15 Nov 2002
Location : New Delhi
Mr. Arun Shourie, Minister for Disinvestment, Commerce and Industry and Development of North Eastern Region, today spelt out India’s priorities in the area of Market Access in the WTO negotiations by clearly stating that the flexibilities that developing countries require in the areas of agriculture and non-agricultural products and services should not be circumscribed and that market access should be calibrated in a manner that it does not create economic upheaval and consequently social and political unrest, specially in the developing countries. Participating in the Session on Market Access at the Informal WTO Trade Ministers’ Meet hosted by the Government of Australia in Sydney this afternoon, Mr. Shourie made it clear that in agriculture, measures to secure food security and rural development would be among the factors in India’s approach to the negotiations,
In the non-agricultural sector, he said that the need for safeguarding certain sensitive sectors of the Indian economy that would be particularly vulnerable in a situation of liberalisation such as the small-scale industrial units in the country would be of paramount importance. Circumstances of the developing countries would have to be reckoned in the negotiations, Mr. Shourie said, pointing out that around two-thirds of India’s population depended on farming for their livelihood and small-scale units provide employment at low capital cost to 18 million workers. In particular, he drew attention to the fact that fluctuations in international prices of agricultural commodities could erode rural incomes and urged that non-tariff measures should not prevent access of India’s agricultural products to the markets of developed countries. Similarly, substantive benefits to developing countries could accrue only if the developed countries eliminated tariff peaks and tariff escalations that are prevalent in sectors of importance to us, like textiles, leather, marine products etc, he said.
He further underlined that the mandate for reducing or eliminating tariff peaks, tariff escalations, high tariffs and for removing non-tariff barriers – particularly on products of interest to developing countries - in the Doha Declaration was specific. Special and differential elements and the importance of not insisting on full reciprocity from developing countries in market access had also been provided in the Doha mandate, the Minister said, adding that the current negotiations should proceed in the spirit of this mandate. He pointed out that proposals that some developed countries were pressing – like "zero for zero" and "tariff harmonisation" – ran counter to what Doha had mandated.
Mr. Shourie emphasised India’s interest in services as a rapidly growing sector of the Indian economy. As part of the ongoing negotiations in services, India has made its requests to several countries and has received requests from some. Mr. Shourie said that India expected meaningful and fruitful negotiations covering several services sectors and all modes of delivery - in particular that the current round of negotiations would place greater emphasis on the movement of natural persons, thus correcting an important imbalance that had remained in the Uruguay Round and post Uruguay Round.
* * * * *